Customs compliance – no longer a back office function

In an opinion piece published today on SupplyChainBrain, Catherine Truel of International Trade Instrument outlines how the global push from the trade to fast-track clearance of goods at the ports has resulted in more obligations for traders.  The article, “You Must Integrate Customs Management Into Your Business Processes to Mitigate Risk,” notes that the trade-off for quicker processing is that traders must self-regulate compliance and be ever ready to demonstrate to Customs authorities that they are following the law in all aspects of global trade.

As a result,

“[t]raders must therefore integrate Customs management in their business processes. By moving compliance checks away from the physical border to the company’s office, Customs have gained a clear visibility of the physical, documentary and financial supply chain. Global traders have exchanged fast Customs clearance against higher compliance responsibilities.”

With customs authorities now having access to a cross-section of importers’ and exporters’ sensitive business information to undertake regulatory audits, Thuel writes,

“Customs compliance cannot be confined to a desk at the back of the warehouse anymore. It must be a multidisciplinary exercise. In this new Customs environment, traders must produce, collect, verify and manage a whole trail of documents and data to feed what we can call the compliance chain.”

To avoid the pitfalls of non-compliance — penalties, delays, lost business opportunities — the trade should ensure that customs compliance is factored into its critical business planning, decision making and operations.

Direct filing customs entries, Importer Security Filings (ISFs) and reconciliation entries is an important way for US importers to take control over their customs compliance obligations — and significantly reduce supply chain costs in the process.